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Quantitative Methods in Public Health

Instructor: Leroy Cooper, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology and Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Vassar College

Course Description: The major focus of public health is to prevent disease and promote health. Utilizing a wide range of subjects, public health is inherently multidisciplinary. This course will incorporate aspects of epidemiology, biostatistics, and biology (i.e., natural history of disease) through lectures, discussion, and laboratory sessions. This course focuses on the principles of quantitative approaches to clinical and public health problems. Study design and validity of public health research, quantitative measures of frequency and association, and methods of data analysis are discussed and applied in the biostatistical laboratory. Critical interpretation of quantitative evidence and public health literature is emphasized throughout the course. Discussion of case studies and primary literature will incorporate aspects of health services, ethics, and policy while also providing students with rigorous experience in quantitative reasoning and evidence-based decision making.

Introduction to Racial Literacy in Contemporary American Literature

Instructor: Jordan Bell, English Instructor, Dutchess Community College

Course Description: This course examines the relationships through which racial knowledge is constructed and communicated in contemporary American literature and historical texts. It approaches racial literacy, and its development, as constructed through sets of relationships between different racial and ethnic groups mediated by culture, history, social media, and assumptions about knowledge (and what is worthy of being deemed as knowledge) and ignorance. Students will study the textual history of racial literacy to segue into how racial literacy and illiteracy manifest in contemporary texts, such as Colson Whitehead’s, The Intuitionist. Moreover, students will be introduced to critical discourse analysis and de-centering Whiteness. Students’ ethnographic experiences (real-world experiences) will be included and studied to help frame contemporary issues with racial literacy in contemporary American literature.

Heroism and Individuality in Greek Mythology: The Trojan War in Homer’s Iliad and Euripides

Instructor: Barbara Olsen, Associate Professor of Greek and Roman Studies, Vassar College

Course Description: Throughout their myths, the Ancient Greeks grappled with questions about their own humanity. By presenting stories of heroic men and women engaged in epic deeds, the Greeks explored questions of identity, heroism, and, in their accounts of the Trojan War cycle especially, the impact of war and struggle on human beings. The Trojan War served as the concluding event in Greek mythology, and the actions and fates of many of its main heroes (Achilles, Agamemnon, Odysseus, Paris, Hector, and Helen) influenced not only the Greek world of 2500 years ago but many of the ways we think about heroism, individuality, glory, family, and ethics even today. Homer’s great epic poem, the Iliad, presents its central hero struggling with the choice to pursue immortal glory or the ordinary pleasures of a peaceful but obscure life outside of the world of fame. After reading several books of the Iliad, produced hundreds of years before the foundation of democracy in Ancient Greece, the class concludes with the reading The Trojan Women, a tragedy by the Athenian Euripides, generally considered the most radical of the three great playwrights of the era of the Athenian democracy. In this play, Euripides further complicates narratives of ancient and present glory, challenging the Athenians to think about the ways war – real or mythological – impacts both warriors and civilians. Throughout the class, we will join Homer and Euripides in asking:  What does it mean to be human – and what does it mean to live of life of meaning and satisfaction? 

Reaching for a New Language: Reading and Writing Poetry

Instructor: Heather Ostman, Professor of English, Westchester Community College

Course Description: This course will introduce students to the major poetic forms, through reading, analysis, and writing creative and critical work. The purpose of this course will be to enable students to “see” as poets have seen the world through the creative lens, to think and reflect on those visions, and to create their own, in response to their own worlds—and possibly with the hope of reshaping them. While the course will focus on the major poetic forms, students will be reading for the vision of the poet, to see how the writer envisions the world and where the potential for transformation and social change may be. Therefore, in addition to reading major poetic works, students will also watch performance videos of poets who articulate a new world and reject the perceptions and at times the constraints of an outdated era. Importantly, students will be writing their own poetry, trying out the different forms, as well as writing critically about the published poetry they will be reading, and peer-reviewing each others’ poems in safe, open workshops. Finally, the course’s lessons, discussions, and workshops will engage reflective practice, so students will have daily opportunities to write and reflect on how what they are reading and writing as tools for deepening their understanding of the ways poetry enables us to “reach for new language and new ways with language . . . to give voice.”